Has Carey Price Put the Montreal Canadiens Ahead of Schedule?

Everyone knows what kind of season goaltender Carey Price is having. He is the frontrunner for the Vezina and Hart trophies and is putting up insane numbers as he is leading most goaltending categories. Many feel that the Montreal Canadiens would be fighting for a playoff spot rather than leading the Eastern conference without Price. Price is without question the team’s MVP but it is debatable whether his stellar play has the Habs ahead of schedule in their development towards being a contender.

(Russell LaBounty-USA TODAY Sports)
(Russell LaBounty-USA TODAY Sports)

Started from the bottom

When Montreal finished third last in the NHL in 2011-2012, things were bleak but never as bad as the state of the Edmonton Oilers or the Buffalo Sabres. With Carey Price, P.K. Subban and Max Pacioretty already in place and grabbing Alex Galchenyuk with the third overall pick, the Habs had a solid core they could work with. The team has been near or at the top of the standings since and have an Eastern conference final appearance last year to show for their efforts.

Prior to GM Marc Bergevin taking over, Montreal had some pretty weak draft classes. 2006, 2008 and 2009 produced only one player who has played over 100 NHL games in Ryan White who is now with the Philadelphia Flyers. Montreal relied heavily on free agents to fill out their roster with the lack of youth in the system which contributed to their bad season. When looking at recent Stanley Cup champions, much of their rosters are built up of home grown players, confirming the importance of drafting and developing well.

Drafting and Developing

But a couple of strong drafts have replenished the prospect cupboards for Montreal. There are a lot of young guys who will be pushing for jobs down the road with young Swede Jacob de la Rose already forcing his way onto the NHL roster. Andrei Markov and Tomas Plekanec have survived multiple regimes in Montreal since being drafted in 1998 and 2001 respectively and have continued to be important cogs. Price of course came in 2005 where many questioned the pick but the critics have been silenced.

Subban and Pacioretty came in Montreal’s famed 2007 draft class that also included defencemen Ryan McDonagh and Yannick Weber. 2010 produced a late round gem in Brendan Gallagher while fingers are crossed big defenceman Jarred Tinordi develops as hoped.

The value of Price

For a comparison standpoint, backup goalie Dustin Tokarski has struggled. It could easily be him not playing up to standard but it could also be he is playing behind a Habs team that relies too much on Price to be superhuman most nights and Tokarski isn’t at Price’s level. The Habs are not a strong possession team and the power play is atrocious considering the kind of talent they have.

Considering how the Habs stack up against other strong teams in the league and how they were outmatched during the California swing, Price masks a lot of flaws in this team. Lack of depth at certain positions and bizarre coaching decisions have been an issue at times during the season. On paper, the Habs are good, but they aren’t terribly imposing. Bergevin has preached the future for awhile as he is usually reluctant to give up prospects and/or draft picks.

Price is a luxury most teams wish they had. There are a lot of good goaltenders in the league but Price has taken his play to new heights as you would be hard pressed to find another player whose team relies on him so much. He has put the Habs ahead of schedule in their development as a team so it’s up to the Habs to raise their play and become the team they are expected to be.

15 thoughts on “Has Carey Price Put the Montreal Canadiens Ahead of Schedule?”

  1. Price is the Vezna and MPV winner this year, no doubt. He has put the team on his back the whole way. They have gotten some huge help from Pacioretty Gallagher, and Subban, not to mention Pleky. They have a talented team and a well-rounded one at that. They would still be solid in a playoff spot without Price, but not first. They have been very good at being a third period team and making comebacks. Stanley Cup winners if Price stays in the net.

  2. The Habs are a good team but made far better by Price. I think Price saves the day many nights when they have a poor showing. A stronger PP would go a long way towards making this team a real contender.

  3. If Price goes down with an injury the Habs go nowhere. The same could be said for a lot of teams. Most would be able to get by for a while with a back up but the Habs rely on Price being unbeatable way too often. Look at last years playoffs, if Price doesn’t get run over I don’t think New York wins that series. The only thing that kept the Bruins from blowing past Montreal was Price. He’s the MVP of that team. It’s not a weakness if he stays healthy.

  4. “Many feel that the Montreal Canadiens would be fighting for a playoff spot rather than leading the Eastern conference without Price”

    WTF is that ridiculous statement based on?

    • That isn’t a ridiculous statement: it’s the truth. Have you seen the Habs play without Price? They are either average or atrocious. I am the biggest Canadiens supporter you’ll find, but truth is truth. They have gotten so used to his god-like play that they have developed a tendency to not play as sharp when he’s in the net because they know he’ll bail them out, which he has done, time after time. This article has a lot of truth in it….

      • And no, before anyone says anything, this is not a slam on Price in any way. He is the best goalie in the league, the most valuable player in the league, and the only reason Montreal is looking down from the top instead of looking up from the bottom…

      • No, it hasn’t. Just assumptions, and assumptions are the mother of every mistake possible. I can run a scenario with Price incapable to come back from injury and Tokarski no1 goalie. Tokarski is looking not that sharp now due to the lack of games played. A goalie should play to become better, training keeps the form, but the match gives you the measure and the adjustments you need to do. But with 40 games in his hand things could have been different. He was great under pressure last year – why thinking he could not be good this year under same pressure?
        Now you see how many ifs and could I used? The same amount as the article posted. And this version could work too. Just because you don’ t see it doesn’t make it impossible.
        I doubt Canadiens would have been on 10th spot now, looking to get the 8th.

  5. Habs are at the top because of the team and Price is part of the team. There’s never been a top team that got there only because of the goalie. The Habs are for real. Live with it, Spiker.

    • That’s not entirely true Jack. I’ve been following the Habs since the early 70s and I can tell you they won the cup in 93 riding Roy’s coat-tails. The team this year is quite similar…some decent players but sitting on top in a large way due to the guy between the pipes.

      • It’s a team game. Price is coming up as a huge part of that team, but he’s one cog in the wheel. They won the cup in ’93 because a young player named John LeClair dug two pucks out from behind the LA net and won two games in a row in OT. And don’t forget the impact of the stick game in Montreal, when they would have headed to LA down 2 games to none. Roy was a big part of that team, but he was again, one cog in the wheel. Get with the program. No one is saying a hot goalie isn’t important, especially during the playoffs and the run to the Cup, but you aren’t getting some crappy team winning it all because of one goalie.

      • Rewind the tape and listen to all the LAK players talk to the media before, during and after LAK King games in their two very recent Stanley Cup winning runs. In EACH of those two seasons LAK was ranked LOWER than MTL is right now, in Goals For. In each year LAK was ranked #1 or # 2 in Goals Against. The goalie is key, yeah; it is still a team stat.

        LAK players all just kept talking about the confidence they played with knowing Quick was going to keep them in every game. They never used the word “invincible” to describe their feelings about their TEAM; they talk all the way around it.

        Marc Bergevin and Michell Therrien have MTL playing a game that builds on that exact same theme. Listen to the MTL players this season.

        It’s like LAK all-over-again. Way too early to plan “the usual parade route” in Montreal, but still….

  6. MTL is looking at being this year’s LAK.

    LAK has won the cup 2 of the last 3 years, and in each of those years, LAK was ranked # 1 or # 2 during the regular season in goals against and way down in the 20’s in goals for … same as the Habs this season.

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